Universal Design Procedures for Teaching Mathematical Word Problem Solving
A multiple-case study design was employed to investigate how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) procedures (CAST, 2002; 2008; Rose & Meyer, 2002), and commonly available technology applied to word problems in mathematics assisted five diverse learners to reduce print and working memory related barriers inherent in the context of the word problems. Specifically, the researcher attempted to investigate how the use of Universal Design for Learning might be applied to promote greater engagement and self-efficacy for solving word problems.
This study focused on providing perspective on difficulties experienced by five learners who exhibited deficits in mathematical word problem solving. Information from barrier analyses was applied to develop digitized math word problems that were used to teach learners to problem solve more effectively. The digitized problems were modified to contain hidden comments accessible by the learner if s/he experienced problems with decoding or comprehending the text. In addition, the problems contained hints to prompt the learner to use strategies for: identifying relevant information, visualizing the context, fact retrieval, and process application.
While prior studies have examined the relationships between working memory deficits (Swanson, & Beebe-Frankenberger, 2004), or reading disability (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Prentice, 2004; Owen & Fuchs, 2002), and word problem solving in mathematics, few have been able to assist educators by offering practical suggestions for reducing these barriers. This study contributes to this research by demonstrating the value of using technology to support the learner’s ability to encode, plan and execute strategies that can serve to increase engagement and self-efficacy for the problem solving task. The presenter will provide detailed information on how to create UDL word problems, a sample disc of the word problems, and a link allowing educators access to a data base of universally designed word problems for students in grades two through five.
Keywords: Math, Technology, Practice
Dr. Mimi Staulters
Assistant Professor, Education, Education Department, Elizabethtown College